Business ideas to be pitched in local contest

WELLSBURG — Several individuals or groups with ideas for new business ventures will vie for several thousands of dollars to help them make their goals a reality in a contest to be held Tuesday at Brooke High School.

The Ohio Valley Business Alliance Corp. will hold its first Business Pitch Contest at 5:30 p.m. in the school’s auditorium.

Admission is free for the event, which OVBAC member David Klick expects to be quite interesting.

“We have a lot of people who have put a lot of time and thought into their projects,” said Klick, noting the seven competitors from Brooke and Hancock counties with ambitions for a wide range of enterprises.

Klick is co-chairing the event with Dr. Heather Stone and Joan Simonetti.

He is among many alliance members with past ties to the Wellsburg Chamber of Commerce and the former Brooke County Economic Development Authority, which had teamed for several years to hold business pitch contests.

“This year I’d say we have the best applicants since I’ve been involved with the pitch. And it’s the biggest pot for the winners,” he said.

Klick said thanks to the generosity of local businesses and other organizations, the group will divide $8,000 among the two winners, with the largest amount going to the one that places first.

He noted the prize money will be disbursed as the two business concepts are developed.

Klick said the contest is similar in format to television’s “Shark Tank,” with the contestants given a limited time to deliver their proposals to a panel of five judges.

The five are: Luke Diserio, chief executive officer of American Muscle Docks and Fabrication; Kelly Jeffers, winner of the last business pitch; Ingrid Loy, a marketing instructor at West Liberty University; Jay McLaughlin, vice president of accounting and finance at Wheeling-Nippon Steel; and Weirton attorney Michael Simon.

Each of the contestants has been instructed to prepare a presentation that includes estimated costs for their endeavor, their targeted market and their vision for the business in two to five years.

“We have a lot of people who have put a lot of time and thought into their projects,” said Klick.

To help the contestants prepare, the Ohio Valley Business Alliance has invited them to the West Virginia Small Business Development Center’s Inspiring You series of seminars and referring them to other resources.

Held at the Brooke County Public Library, the free seminars offer guidance to aspiring and existing business owners in topics ranging from developing a business plan to marketing their goods and services to potential customers to understanding financial statements.

In addition to the event’s sponsors, Klick expressed thanks to the chambers of commerce of Weirton, Follansbee and Wellsburg, which also have provided support; and Brooke County school officials for making the auditorium available for the group.

He said the group hopes to spur economic growth throughout the Northern Panhandle and sees events like the contest as a way to support that.

“We think this could really be enough to move the needle for someone,” said Klick.

(Scott can be contacted at

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